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Molecular diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy: Past, present and future in relation to implementing therapies

Laing, N.G., Davis, M.R., Bayley, K., Fletcher, S. and Wilton, S.D. (2011) Molecular diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy: Past, present and future in relation to implementing therapies. The Clinical Biochemist: Reviews, 32 (3). pp. 129-134.

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Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the commonest and best-known of the muscular dystrophies. Being an X-linked disorder, it affects mainly boys. The disease gene was identified in 1987, with the majority of mutations demonstrated to be large-scale deletions. Current best practice molecular diagnosis includes multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) followed by direct sequencing of all exons at the genomic level, or from cDNA, in order to detect point and other small mutations. The difference between DMD and the allelic Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) is whether the precise mutation in the gene is a null mutation or results in a modified still partially functional protein. Over the last few years, significant progress has been made in moving experimental therapies into clinical trials, with one of the most promising possible therapies being anti-sense oligonucleotide induced exon-skipping, which converts DMD to BMD. In order to maximise the benefit from future therapies, it will be necessary to start administering the therapies as early as possible in the life of the affected boys, before significant muscle loss occurs. This will require early diagnosis, which evidence suggests is best achieved through population screening. Population screening also allows the avoidance of multiple affected boys in families with no previous family history.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists
Copyright: © 2009 The Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists Inc.
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